You’re in the process of setting up your business and you want it to be successful, right? Of course! But what steps can you take to improve your chances? The answer: write a business plan.

You may think that writing a business plan is unnecessary and time-consuming, but this is untrue. A well-written and researched plan can set objectives and measurable goals, assist when seeking investment, and help to grow your startup.

To write a successful business plan, keep it concise and include the following:

1. Executive Summary

The summary sits at the beginning of your business plan and is usually 1-2 pages long. Essentially, it’s a mission statement that tells readers who your company is and what it does. It outlines the history of your business, your company’s location, and the products and services offered.

2. Market Analysis

This section looks at your industry, your company’s target market, and its competitors.

It contains competitor analysis that highlights trends, assesses strengths and weaknesses, and as such, your venture’s advantages. It’s about finding out what your competitors do and explaining how your business can do it better – this is how your company will be successful.

3. Organization and Operation

How Not to Get Blindsided by Easy Money and Manage Your Finances Better

In this part, explain company structure and how it will impact your startup.

What is the management structure? How does the team operate? How will the business function on a daily basis? And what responsibilities lie with whom?

4. Products and Services

This portion is about more than explaining what goods or services you offer – although this is important.

For success, you need to dig a little deeper. This includes any problems that your products/services solve, how you will further develop goods/services, and how they address a market need.

5. Strategies: Marketing and Sales

For any business to be successful, you need to know how to attract and retain customers. This is what marketing and sales are all about.

Explain how you will capitalize on your idea and turn it into a profitable business model. Make sure to include methods and strategies, such as social media or door-to-door marketing.

Here are 3 actionable steps you can take to make your marketing strategy more successful.

Clearly Define Your Goals

Are you looking to find a new customer? Increase your website traffic?  Perhaps you’d like to increase your impressions. Whether you’d like to achieve all of these or none of them, it’s important to know what you’re looking to achieve before you set out to do it.

Lay out actionable steps to getting there and pave the way with KPIs and measurable data. Being clear about what you’re trying to pursue will only help you get there.

Find Inspiration

It’s no surprise that some of our best work is a result of being inspired by something.

Any marketing, but social media, in particular, is always on the cusp of something new. One day everyone is supporting a great cause with an #icebucketchallenge and the next it’s a light-hearted viral sensation like the #mannequinchallenge.

Instead of trying to keep up with social media trends (which we all know can be difficult on its own,) find inspiration from someone in the industry you admire.

What’s working for them? If it’s a strategy that might work for you then why not try it out?

Plan With a Purpose

Do you have a planner? How about a content calendar?

If you’re trying to successfully spearhead your own marketing campaign, having a detailed plan in place is vital.

Of course, you could just schedule a flurry of untimely Facebook ads, but that’s not going to get you anywhere fast. Between planning, creating and ramping up ad spend, dates are important for making the most out of your team’s hard work and taking advantage of major holidays.

From Valentine’s Day and Back to School to Christmas and Thanksgiving, planning ahead for these major events will only help you get the attention of seasonal shoppers. Calculating the right time to launch seasonal ads has always been tricky, and it varies depending on the festivity in question.

6. Financial Forecasts

Although this sits near the end of a business plan, don’t underestimate its importance – especially if you’re hoping to secure funding.

This is where you get to really sell your venture by highlighting the financial success your business is predicted to achieve over the next 5 years.

Do this through forecasting the following: balance sheets, income statements and cash flow statements.

7. Appendix

This is where you can include any relevant supporting documents, such as: credit history, references, patents, or legal info.

These are the main areas to include in your business plan. Put in the research and your business plan could help your startup be a success.